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News Digest: Week of October 11

October 14, 2021
October 11 Trade: Adani Ports, the largest port operator in India, announced that it would cease - as of November 15 - to handle cargo from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It did not provide a reason, but the announcement followed a seizure of heroin from Afghanistan worth some $2.65 billion at a…

How the World Aids Iran on COVID-19

October 13, 2021
Between early February and mid-October 2021, the international community provided Iran with 92.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. China, Iran’s top trading partner, provided the largest amount, about 90 percent of the doses imported by Iran. Iran gained access to foreign vaccines mostly through…

Facebook Removes IRGC-linked Network

October 12, 2021
Iran's 31 provincesOn October 11, Facebook announced that it had removed a network linked to the Revolutionary Guards that praised the military and criticized opposition groups. Facebook took down 93 accounts, 14 pages, 15 groups and 194 Instagram accounts that targeted primarily domestic audiences…

Iran-linked Hackers Targeted American, Israeli Defense Companies

October 11, 2021
On October 11, Microsoft announced that a hacking group linked to Iran attempted to gain access to more than 250 accounts “with a focus on U.S. and Israeli defense technology companies, Persian Gulf ports of entry, or global maritime transportation companies with business presence in the Middle…

News Digest: Week of October 4

October 6, 2021
Politics: In his first public speech after 10 years under house arrest, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi urged major reforms to eliminate the “flaws and shortcomings” in the Islamic Republic. Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament who ran for the presidency in 2009, was allowed to give a brief…

Khamenei on U.S. and Foreign Intervention

October 6, 2021
In a wide-ranging speech, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the United States for interfering in its neighboring regions, notably Afghanistan. The Americans “stayed in that country for 20 years killing people, committing crimes, occupying, promoting addictive drugs, and destroying the…

Reformist Speaks After 10 Years of House Arrest

October 6, 2021
Mehdi KarroubiIn his first public speech after 10 years under house arrest, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi urged major reforms to eliminate the “flaws and shortcomings” in the Islamic Republic. Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament who ran for the presidency in 2009, was allowed to give a…

Explainer: Iran’s Nuclear Progress

October 6, 2021
Updated: November 22, 2021
Kelsey Davenport is the Director for Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association.   After the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the father of Iran's nuclear program, Parliament passed a new law in December 2020 requiring the government to accelerate its nuclear program. What are…

Raisi, the Presidency and Iran's Foreign Policy

October 4, 2021
Reza H. Akbari is a MENA Program Manager at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and a doctoral student at American University, where he focuses on the history of the modern Middle East. Follow him on Twitter @rezahakbari.   Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, has had little experience in…

News Digest: Week of September 27

September 29, 2021
September 27 Diplomacy: Iraqi officials said that Baghdad had hosted Iranian and Saudi officials for a fourth round of bilateral talks – the first round since President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August. The regional rivals severed diplomatic relations in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed Nimr al…

Iran and Israel Spar at U.N.

September 29, 2021
On September 27, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Iran of destabilizing the Middle East and working towards a nuclear weapon. “Iran's nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning,” he warned in his debut address to…

Raisi Fights Fifth Wave of COVID-19

September 29, 2021
Updated: February 22, 2022
In the early days of his presidency, Ebrahim Raisi’s top priority was fighting Iran’s fifth and deadliest wave of COVID-19. More than 38,000 new cases and 400 deaths were reported on August 5, the day that he took office. Three days later, Raisi set an example by publicly receiving his first dose…

Iran Ships Fuel to Hezbollah, Defies U.S. Sanctions

September 29, 2021
In August, Iran began shipping badly needed fuel to Lebanon through Hezbollah, the Lebanese political movement and militia. The move demonstrated Tehran’s unwavering support for the group and defiance of U.S. sanctions. Hezbollah used the shipments to bolster its image amid Lebanon’s economic…

Arrest of Iran Rapper Stirs Outrage

September 28, 2021
Toomaj SalehiOn September 13, Toomaj Salehi, a popular young rapper, was arrested at his home in Isfahan and charged with propaganda against the regime. Salehi gained popularity for his songs—such as “Normal Life,” released in June 2021—that spotlighted poverty, corruption and repression in Iran.…

Amir-Abdollahian in New York on Foreign Policy

September 27, 2021
On September 24, new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Western reporters during the opening week of the U.N. General Assembly. In one session, only his opening remarks were on the record. In another interview with MSNBC, he provided more detailed comments on Tehran’s…

Raisi’s First Moves on Foreign Policy

September 23, 2021
Updated: October 3, 2021
In the early days of his presidency, Ebrahim Raisi outlined two main priorities in Iranian foreign policy: improving relations with neighbors, and expanding ties with Asian powers, including China and Russia. “I extend a hand of friendship and brotherhood to all countries in the region, especially…

News Digest: Week of September 20

September 22, 2021
September 20 Sports: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated the national volleyball team for winning the 2021 Asian Championship title.  In the Name of the Most High The brilliant victory of the National #Volleyball Team is very sweet for the Iranian nation. I sincerely thank you…

At UN, Raisi Blasts US, Backs Nuclear Talks

September 21, 2021
On September 21, President Ebrahim Raisi expressed support for diplomatic negotiations to restore full U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules,” he said during his debut address…

Sanctions on Hezbollah and IRGC Networks

September 17, 2021
On September 17, the Treasury Department announced sanctions, authorized under Executive Order 13224, on a network of facilitators and front companies in the Middle East and Far East that helped fund Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards elite Quds Force. Treasury designated 11 individuals in…

News Digest: Week of September 13

September 15, 2021
September 13 Hezbollah:  Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese political movement and militia Hezbollah, said that the group received its first shipment of Iranian fuel at the Syrian port of Banias. The fuel was to be transported by trucks to Lebanon, which was in the midst of a fuel crisis…

IAEA Report: Breakout Time Shortens

September 15, 2021
In its quarterly report on September 7, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was enriching uranium at levels significantly higher than allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal, which experts subsequently warned could allow Iran to amass sufficient fuel for a single nuclear…

U.S. Charges Florida Family with Sanctions Violations

September 15, 2021
On September 14, the Justice Department announced several charges against a former University of Miami professor, Mohammad Faghihi, his wife Farzaneh Modarresi and sister Faezeh Faghihi related to their alleged violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The family operated a genetic sequencing company…

U.S. Sentences Iranian for Exporting Military Sensitive Parts

September 15, 2021
On September 14, the Justice Department sentenced an Iranian national, Mehrdad Ansari, to more than five years in prison for trying to obtain parts that have potential military uses for Iran. “Ansari and his co-conspirators attempted to profit from a far-reaching, extensive scheme to evade U.S.…

Iran, Nuclear Watchdog Reach Deal on Monitoring

September 13, 2021
On September 12, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reached an agreement that would allow the watchdog agency to service monitoring equipment at Iranian nuclear facilities. The IAEA had not had access to its equipment, including cameras, since May 25. It urgently needed to swap…

U.S. Sanctions Iranians Plotting to Kidnap Activist

September 10, 2021
On September 3, the Treasury Department sanctioned four Iranian intelligence operatives who plotted to abduct an Iranian-American activist. “Iran’s attempt to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil because she used her freedom of speech to criticize the Iranian government is unacceptable and an…

News Digest: Week of September 6

September 9, 2021
September 6 Afghanistan: At a weekly press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the Taliban attack against the last stronghold of resistance forces in Panjshir, whom he praised for their “martyrdom.”  Afghanistan: Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High…

News Digest: Week of August 30

September 9, 2021
August 31 Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly invited him to visit Paris. The Elysée did not immediately comment on these remarks. “The French were very interested to use the opportunity [of the Iraq summit] to get close to…

Raisi's Economic Team

September 3, 2021
The Bourse & Bazaar Foundation, a think tank focused on economic diplomacy and development in the Middle East and Central Asia, prepared this report in collaboration with "The Iran Primer."   President Ebrahim Raisi has prioritized improving Iran’s faltering economy. He took office in August…

Raisi and the Revolutionary Guards

September 2, 2021
Alex Vatanka is the director of the Iran Program and a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.  Under President Ebrahim Raisi, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is poised to exert greater control over Iran’s national security agenda and economy. Several of his ministers and advisors…

U.S. Settlement with Bank on Sanctions Violations

August 27, 2021
On August 27, the U.S. Treasury announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Romanian bank First Bank SA and its American parent company, JC Flowers & Co., for apparent violation of Iran and Syria sanctions. The bank and company agreed to pay $862,318 for processing 98 commercial…